RFID Trends: What's Ahead in 2017, Part 3

Technology providers predict advances in reader technology and management for the retail market and beyond.
By Claire Swedberg

These large-scale deployments still tend to be custom-designed, and when it's a global retailer, the economies of scale work well. "However, the industry still is not offering end-to-end turnkey solutions that are easily deployed, are inexpensive in terms of upfront investment, and don't require much customization to be useful," Schoner notes. That absence of ready-for-deployment, end-to-end solutions makes it difficult for small retailers to adopt RFID.

According to Schoner, there is a need for simple RFID tools and infrastructure that allow for easy deployment without store specific customization.

ThingMagic's Bernd Schoner
"It is not realistic that a small or mid-sized retailer deploys a multi-person team to technically evaluate available RFID technology in depth," Schoner says, "and then proceeds to run an implementation team that procures technology from multiple source." Rather, he explains, the retailer should be able to choose from a small number of one-stop vendors that offer fully integrated solution which can be dropped in inexpensively, much like a new cash register would simply be plugged into a power outlet. The Internet of Things and the cloud are key elements of that strategy, according to Schoner. The IoT allows for remote management of infrastructure and data, while the cloud allows vendors to maintain systems and service multiple customers inexpensively.

ThingMagic has made a name for itself by providing high-performing, well-supported, world-wide-certified and flexible reader platforms, Schoner says. These are all requirements for OEM components used in retail RFID applications. "We also have been very steady in our strategy relative to the general RFID market place and retail in particular," he states. Zebra Technologies released its first RFID-enabled printer a dozen years ago, powered by the first ThingMagic RFID module. Since then, ThingMagic has been working with Zebra to expand its RFID printer line and ThingMagic's module line. "Today, Schoner reports, "Zebra is the undisputed market leader in RFID printers, which are a critical element in retail deployments."

With JADAK's acquisition of ThingMagic, Schoner says, the company's strategy hasn't changed. "But we now have a much wider range of technologies and services to offer," he adds, "including NFC [Near Field Communication] reader modules." RAIN UHF RFID is not compatible with consumer applications, but NFC speaks to most consumer devices. "Retailers are eager to apply RFID in consumer applications and are looking to bridge the gap between RAIN and NFC," Schoner states. "We can help with that."

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